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A New Dining Experience at The St. Regis Tianjin

A New Dining Experience at The St. Regis Tianjin

 

A conversation with Burak Cecen
Director of Food & Beverage
 
By Natasha J
 
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The St. Regis Tianjin
 
Meet Burak Cecen, originally from the former Ottoman Empire where the culinary delights of the Mediterranean zone and the East and the West flourished.  Burak is here to bring those experiences to The St. Regis Tianjin as Director of Food and Beverage. 
 
Burak has worked in virtually every aspect of the restaurant industry, rising through the ranks to his current position. He is passionate about restaurants and, specifically, the food and beverage side of the restaurant industry. He combines the creativity of the kitchen with nuts and bolts of running a food and beverage business. "I always loved restaurants as a consumer, my heart lies there," says Burak. "I love my job. It is more than love - I have a passion for food and am very much focused on bringing new experiences to The St. Regis Tianjin emanating from the Mediterranean and the West. "
 
Cecen overlooks all Food and Beverage related operations of The St. Regis Tianjin has 3 cosy restaurants - Promenade, the all-day dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the fine dining restaurant Riviera and The St. Regis Tianjin Bar and banquet. He intends to give Tianjin a new understanding of Food and Beverage and to enhance the city’s experience at St. Regis Tianjin.
 
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How did the Food and Beverage industry interest you? 
 
My family owns a hotel in Turkey. I grew up in a background where culinary and service operations were a day-to-day happening. Thus, it was in my blood to follow in my family’s footsteps. I embarked on my journey at a tender age. I travelled to Istanbul to work in a 5-star luxury hotel. Since then I have continued to work in numerous luxury hotels across the world.
 
How would you leverage your global hospitality experience on your new assignment as Director of Food and Beverage for The St. Regis Tianjin? 
 
I have been fortunate to be able to work in several countries across the globe, and in doing so, I have added to my repertoire of skills the ability to understand the needs of guests. Working in a discipline that aims to continuously delight clients, it gives me immense pleasure to understand the diverse cultures and live up to their expectations. I am also well equipped to impart my knowledge and prepare appropriate training and development to ensure a proper work environment for my team and lead them towards success. 
 
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Promenade
 
How did The St. Regis Tianjin celebrate the recent Chinese New Year?
 
That was an exciting period. Many people visited us and there were a lot of activities and enjoyment. Our theme was family reunion. In our all-day dining restaurant, Promenade, we had a complementary dining promotion for any child less than 12 years of age or senior citizen of over 60 years accompanied by an adult. We strived to create a tone where families could gather and have an enjoyable time with us. In addition, throughout the week we had numerous surprises for our guests at the lobby area, including local traditional foods such as dumplings and dim sum and an array of celebrations for the pleasure of our guests at The St. Regis Tianjin.  
 
What significant Food and Beverage trends are you seeing in terms of guest preferences?
 
Currently we are working on various collaborations to bring luxury brands to our guests. New-fangled features for afternoon tea, contemporary brunch at Promenade, a whole new dining concept at Riviera and many more fresh elements are yet to come. We aspire to offer a novel experience for our guests to share with their loved ones. We will focus on family-oriented events in our all-day dining restaurant, especially for kids so that children don’t necessarily have to eat adult food. We have already put in place at the Riviera restaurant a business lunch. It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring your client or office colleague to indulge in an exquisite meal.
 
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In what way do you apply creativity in the buffet and banquets that you offer? 
 
When creativity has been inculcated into the buffet, you will find guests walking around the buffet table trying to sample everything but unable to do so. When you look at them you can read it in their faces – that’s an exciting buffet. This is what delights me. 
 
We have a new executive chef on board. He has an extensive culinary experience having previously worked in 3 Michelin-starred restaurants. Most team members have been with the hotel for an extended period, making them proficient in assimilating guests’ expectations. With new minds like me and the chef alongside our experienced team we intend to provide the right experience for each of our guests.
 
Is there any innovation in the menu cards of The St. Regis Tianjin that is being raved about by your guests? 
 
Presently we are revising our menu cards along with our collaborators to bring an element of surprise for our guests. We intend to invite wine makers monthly to better inform our selected guests on wine along with Chef Ignacio’s beautiful dishes that will pair very well with the wine. The monthly wine talks will be an impressive initiative to mingle with our guests. In addition to that we will have tasting panels for whiskey, tequila and other spirits. Our new chef, originally from Mexico, is ready to bring his expertise on Mexican cuisine to add to this growing trend. I think these are great opportunities to come together with our guests and celebrate life.
 
We also have plans to include a chef’s table at the private dining room in Riviera, offer afternoon tea in our Presidential Suite for the top guests and several decanters at The St. Regis Tianjin Bar. 

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Can you recall a particularly challenging request that you and your staff were able to deliver?
 
Instead of seeing a guest as a challenge we continuously challenge ourselves to provide a sweeter experience for our guests. We work as a team to make custom menus and prepare packages for our guests that would better suit their likings. Whether it is a banquet operation or requests made at the restaurant, the F&B team will share this with the culinary team and together we will find the most viable option for our guest. Each guest has distinctive expectations as per their financial plan. We will work on this aspect with our financial team and sales and marketing team.
 
Among the amenities that The St. Regis Tianjin offers, which are the ones that appeal most to business travellers?  
 
The St. Regis Tianjin upholds many rituals true to its heritage and culture. Every evening we host a gathering for our long staying and loyal guests where the ex-com members and I participate in the lobby. Together we enjoy a drink along with bite-sized snacks prepared by our superior culinary team. We arrange for champagne sabering if the occasion calls for it. This creates a warm ambience for our guests and a suitable environment to feel the pulse of the people about the hotel. 

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The river view from The St. Regis Tianjin makes it a truly fantastic location. I’m sure you must be hosting several events there. 
 
The River side is a mesmerizing place. It is the best spot in Tianjin for a relaxing evening, especially during the summer, where our guests almost forget food when they are lounging on the terrace. But when the food arrives it heightens their experience, transporting them to a whole new dimension. We start our summer operation with a terrace/river lounge opening party. Every year we propose a unique theme. Likewise, for the coming year we have countless promising ideas in store to delight our guests. So, stay tuned!
 
What can a future bride and groom expect once they book their wedding reception at your hotel?
 
We offer our guests a tailor-made experience. This is our motto, to give each individual couple a customized arrangement based on their needs. It’s not only about Food & Beverage, but the overall hotel experience. From arrival to departure, we will take care of all preparations. The St. Regis Tianjin is home away from home. Our aim is to provide the same comfort but with a luxurious touch. Our aim is to give the couple a memorable day and for guests to say, “This is the best wedding I have attended. I want my children to have their wedding ceremony here.”  We also teach our guests the art of sabrage if the groom or best man wishes to do so at the wedding.
 
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Are any major events scheduled to take place in the hotel over the coming months? 
 
Of course! We are working with our culinary team to invite guest chefs specialising in different culinary designs to The St. Regis Tianjin. This will be a fantastic opportunity to introduce celebrity chefs to our guests here in Tianjin. The summer party is the most anticipated event for the coming season.

Which favourite pastime do you indulge in at the end of a busy week?
 
I enjoy the buffet at The St. Regis Tianjin. I really like to put myself in the shoes of my guests and relish a dining experience like them. It is relaxing and is also an opportunity for me to feel the guest experiences and to understand their needs. I like dining at the Riviera restaurant with my wife. It’s a private feel restaurant. I value the cosiness of this restaurant. The private booths also make for a great setup if you wish to celebrate your birthday or wedding proposal. It gives me magnificent pleasure and relaxation to combine my work and leisure. In addition to that, I row. It’s a great sport and helps kick-start my morning and sometimes even wind down at the end of a long day. We have other state-of-the-art fitness facilities in the hotel that I incorporate in my fitness regimen.

Is there anything you would like to add and share with our readers?
 
We welcome all of you and have big surprises in store. Our chef has crafted several innovative dining concepts just for you. Do not hesitate to reach us for any inquiries about personalized plans to suit your budget. We aim to deliver a tailor-made experience specifically designed for you. We are more than happy to delight our guests’ personal needs. Everything is possible at The St. Regis Tianjin. We will create a unique dining experience for all our visitors alike, and that will not be limited to just in-house guests.
 

 

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